austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Just by walking slowly in a room

The format for the Women's World Championship was the same as that as the State Championships a month prior. bunny_hugger figured to use the same strategy. HWH would get to pick the first game. The loser of each round would get the next pick. bunny_hugger figured she'd lose early and then go to the older, electromechanical games as much as possible. It nearly brought her through the first round at the state games; why not the Women's World Championship? There's good thinking behind this. HWH she knew --- about the only thing she knew --- was originally from Sweden; pinball games tend to be rarer there. It's different playing an electromechanical or an early solid-state game compared to a modern game. HWH might be vulnerable there. But she would get the first pick.

HWH picked Pinball Magic for the first game. It's a relatively obscure one. It's one we happen to know. BIL got one and put it into his basement tournaments. A good omen. It's a mid-90s game with a theme --- stage magic --- that bunny_hugger loves, and that she can play well. Another good omen; it's usually easier to play a game whose theme you like. It didn't go well. She put up something like 25 million points to HWH's 100 million. bunny_hugger would berate herself for doing terribly on this for the rest of the day, not helped when I pointed out the number of other people, playing in the Women's or the coed Nationals, who didn't beat that.

Next game, after HWH gets back from a smoke outside. bunny_hugger's pick. Bally's Monte Carlo, an electromechanical with the theme exactly what you'd guess. The machine allows four people to play, but the tournament rules set it to a single player at a time because, presumably, there's something where one player can screw up another's game state. Older games were like that. Thing about this era is it's easy to get a house ball. This makes it a good pick if you're playing someone far better than you: with luck, they'll be less lucky than you. bunny_hugger kept getting house balls, or balls that only gave her one flip or so. Another loss. HWH goes out for another cigarette.

bunny_hugger picks Gorgar. It's a bold choice. The game's an early solid state, but it's one of the most successful solid states. If HWH knew any early solid state games it would be Gorgar. But bunny_hugger knows it very well from simulator and tolerably well from real-world play. The game accommodates four players. They ring in four games, with bunny_hugger player 1 and HWH player 3. This is a common practice in games with very sensitive tilt mechanisms: the tilt bob, disturbed enough, might keep swinging and register dangers or even a tilt on the next player. Having a one-player buffer between competitors avoids this problem. HWH will plunge player 2's balls. bunny_hugger will plunge player 4's balls. Both just watch to see the balls hit what they do. Maybe they use it to sneak in a little extra practice on the plunge. I couldn't say.

bunny_hugger does not have a good game. She has a catastrophic game. She gets one pure house ball, drifting down the center without her able to touch it. She also gets one-flip balls. She gets about 20,000 points. It gets worse. ``Player 4'', the balls she plunged and let go without flipping at all, gets about 25,000. Losing to the plunged ball is not an unknown phenomenon. Everyone's done it at least once. But bunny_hugger is inconsolable after this.

It gets worse. As a major pinball event the Women's World Championship and the National Championship are being streamed, live, on Twitch. There's color commentary and everything. Not on every game; they pick one game or match to follow a while and go on to something else. While bunny_hugger is having her disaster game of Gorgar she's being live-streamed and commented on, by people wincing at what the game is doing. The only consolation: they lose the recording of her performance. There's no permanent record that we know of from this game. Just text messages of sympathy and, well, my report.

bunny_hugger faces elimination. She picks Flip-A-Card. It's electromechanical. She knows nothing of it past the theme: cards. So she knows the whole of the game. Each target matches a card; hit each of the targets once to collect cards. It's a one-player game. bunny_hugger has to go first, put up a complete score and see what her competitor does. She has a respectable game, breaking 3,500 points, over a third of the way to rolling it. For the first time she'd ever played the game that's not bad.

She has a good chance here. There's the levelling advantage of electromechanical games. There's also that Flip-A-Card ends the game on a tilt. Modern games just end your ball. She's noticed: HWH plays aggressively, steadily nudging the machines. Which is fine, it's part of the game. But if HWH makes a mistake and nudges just a little too strongly this game, she won't just lose a ball. She'll lose the rest of her game. She's probably good enough to beat 3,500 on five balls. But if she had only three? One?

HWH doesn't tilt.

But she also doesn't beat bunny_hugger. She puts up about 2,500 points, again, rather good for possibly the first time she'd touched the machine. But a loss. The best-of-seven match is at 3-1. She goes out for a cigarette. It's her turn to pick a game.

She chooses CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. It's one of the 2000s-era Stern games, from back when their licensing was done by the Family Guy Writer Manatees. (Also a licensed game that era: Family Guy). It's a modern game, so likely very good to someone skilled and who knows the ruleset. bunny_hugger's never played it. I've played it once, at Pinburgh last year. And without Wi-Fi we can't look up PinTips. I dig into my recollection of the game. I think it's your standard modern Jillions Of Multiballs Games. Shoot the big target in the center for one of the multiballs. Shoot banks of standing targets for another multiball. I pass on what I know.

bunny_hugger has some trouble. She can't find the skill shot. The big center target begging for hits is the Centrifuge, which spins the ball around and eventually kicks it out. It kicks it down the center, cruelly unfair. HWH puts up something above thirty million points. bunny_hugger manages about a tenth that.

Four losses. bunny_hugger loses the match. They're not playing out the losers to rank, say, who should be 14th and who 15th place. She's done for the day. It's been two and a half hours. We're not to fly home until Monday, four days in the future.

Trivia: Two years after Samuel Morse's 1846 experimental line connected Washington and Baltimore there were 2,000 miles of telegraph cable in the United States. By 1850 there were twelve thousand miles operated by twenty different companies. Source: The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's Online Pioneers, Tom Standage.

Currently Reading: Gateway To The Moon: Building the Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex, Charles D Benson, William B Faherty. NASA SP-4204, excerpted.

Tags: dallas, pinball, world women's pinball championship
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